By Robert J. Hansen
Sacramento, CA – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama, and Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp announced 47 felony arrests of gang members last week, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office.
Seventeen arrests were related to human trafficking and pimping, the press release said.
The arrests were a result of a months-long, multiagency investigation into violent criminal street gangs operating in Fresno.
“As a result of this joint law enforcement effort, we’re taking guns off the street and putting suspected gang members and their associates behind bars,” Bonta said. “Together, we’re putting public safety first. Thank you to our partners in Fresno and across the state for working with us day-in and day-out to protect the people of California.”
The investigation was conducted as part of a cooperative effort through the Fresno-area Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC).
Members and associates of the gangs are allegedly responsible for a series of violent crimes, including homicide, and were identified as a significant threat to the community.
“Fresno is safer thanks to collaboration, determination, and swift action,” Bonta said. “No family should ever have to worry about drive-bys or other forms of gun violence in the neighborhoods where their children live and play.”
Law enforcement also executed 38 search warrants resulting in the seizure of 30 firearms and $18,960.
“This operation is the largest of its kind in recent history in our state,” Fresno Police Chief Balderrama said. “It has yielded multiple arrests of violent felons, taken many illegal firearms off our streets, helped solve at least three homicides, and stopped half a dozen anticipated shootings that we are aware of, including two potential mass shootings.”
The targeted gangs have a reported history of criminal violence in Fresno, including drive-by shootings and shootings in or around populated areas according to the Attorney General’s office.
Law enforcement was able to help prevent numerous violent crimes, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and other firearm-related crimes.
“We know all too well the violence affecting our city, and what must be done to turn the tide and increase community safety,” Balderrama said. “Today is your day, and our community is safer for it.”
The operation also yielded new evidence to support the arrests of individuals allegedly responsible for six previously unsolved murders and 14 arrests for conspiracy to commit murder.
Suspected gang members also allegedly helped fund their activities through sex trafficking and prostitution rings, which initial estimates suggest brought in tens of thousands of dollars a week.
Suspected gang members allegedly committed various other crimes, including murder, attempted murder, assault, conspiracy, illegal possession of a firearm, pimping and pandering, burglary, and more.
Through collaboration, the California Department of Justice’s Special Operations Unit provides statewide enforcement for combating violent career criminals, gangs, and organized crime groups, as well as intrastate drug trafficking.